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Not All Murder Cases Go Unsolved

These cases in the Pittsburgh area did not have a happy ending, but finding those missing persons might have brought closure to families.

As early as this July, people in the law enforcement community knew that the remains of Amanda Sue Myers of Pittsburgh had been identified through DNA comparison.

However, it was only last week when Pittsburgh police finally released the news. In July, two separate sources told Patch that Amanda had been identified but that police wanted to hold off on releasing information until some interviews had been conducted.

Amanda, who was 22 at the time of her death, was last seen in Pittsburgh at the end of 1999 but may have been in Florida and Tennessee as late as April 2000. She was not reported missing until 2007, according to the Pennsylvania Missing Persons website. 

Known unofficially as Homestead Jane Doe, Amanda was found deceased on Oct. 3, 2000 in an abandoned railroad tunnel behind the Giant Eagle supermarket at the Waterfront in Homestead. The cause of death was undetermined.

"I've always had a special place in my heart for Homestead Jane Doe," said Nancy Monahan of Penn Hills, who operates the Pennsylvania Missing Persons website. "From an absolute need to find the tunnel, to see where she'd been left, to the funeral at Woodruff Memorial Park with the other two unknown ladies, she's a girl I've always kept close. I always felt, believed, that she was a local girl. The visit to the tunnel convinced me I was right.

"I have a picture of Amanda in my head, left in that dark, filthy place, stripped of everything but a pair of socks, huddled against the elements, cold and alone. It's an image I will likely never be able to dispel, nor do I want to."

Amanda and two other women whose bodies were found in Allegheny County but never identified were buried at Woodruff Memorial Park in North Strabane, Washington County, on June 10, 2009.

"I'm glad for Amanda's family, that she's been identified and they finally know what happened to her," Monahan said. "I'm also inexplicably saddened that it took so long. In retrospect, she should have been identified years ago. To answer what went wrong, for so long, cannot be answered easily but there are lessons to be learned here."

A few months ago, Patch profiled some other missing persons from the western Pennsylvania region who, like Amanda, had been identified after their remains were found.

"There are so many other unidentified souls just here in Pennsylvania: Mr. Bones, Penny Doe, Beth Doe, Publicker Jane Doe, the Boy in the Box, the list goes on ... and on," Monahan said. "Amanda, and the 12 years it took to bring her home, serves as a beacon of hope, a reminder that no matter how long, no matter the missteps and mistakes, it is never to late to reclaim a name and send a loved one home."

Here are nine more among those cases that have been closed, as listed on the Pennsylvania Missing Persons website:

  • Amanda Lynn Faux's body was discovered in an outdoor trash bin on Long Alley in Charleroi on Jan. 6, 2008. The 22-year-old homicide victim from West Mifflin was the cousin of Melissa Galiyas, 32, of Clairton, who was last seen on March 26, 2007 at a bus stop at the corner of St. Clair and Miller Avenues in Clairton. Melissa's skeletal remains were found on Dec. 22, 2007 over a hillside in a wooded area along Van Kirk Street, just a couple of blocks from her home. Melissa, too, was the victim of a homicide.
  • Michael "Spider" Mance was last seen on June 6, 2008 in the Turtle Creek area. He was found deceased on June 25, 2008 in a trailer behind his workplace, not far from where he was last seen.
  • Joseph Harris, 17, a Schenley High School student who lived in the Sheridan neighborhood of Pittsburgh, was last seen boarding a bus in downtown Pittsburgh on Nov. 11, 2008.  He was found deceased on Feb. 13, 2009 in the Ohio River near the New Cumberland locks and dam in Hancock County, WV.
  • James Samuel Rapp, 56, of Prospect, Butler County, was last seen on July 12, 2004. His skeletal remains were found in a wooded area near the intersection of Routes 422 and 528 in Muddy Creek Township, not far from his home.
  • Sidney Akorli, 24, of the North Side of Pittsburgh was found in the Ohio River near Brunots Island on May 12, 2010. She was identified on June 3, 2010 after photos of her distinctive tattoos were released to the public.  Foul play is not suspected.
  • Wilbert Darr, 74, of Murrysville, Westmoreland County, left his Glendale Lane home on May 27, 2008 to go for a nature walk near his home, something he often did. He never returned home. On July 12, 2010, skeletal remains were located in the densely wooded area, not far from Glendale Lane. Dental comparison confirmed that the remains were his.

For more information about missing persons or unidentified, unclaimed bodies, visit Pennsylvania Missing PersonsNamUs or the Doe Network.

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